There are two very distinct narratives when it comes to kids playing football in Kenya.

Let’s look at two stories.

Here’s Dennis.

Dennis’ story began in 1999 when he first fell in love with football as a child growing up in Korogocho slum, East Nairobi. His family didn’t have much but Dennis overcame many odds to finish secondary school and pass his KCSE exams. At the time, Dennis’ family didn’t have the money to send Dennis to University, so Dennis decided to follow the sport that he always loved; football — he was supremely talented. After high school, Dennis played all over the country, representing different teams in both the National Super League (NSL) and the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) at a young age. He did so well that he and his family began to perceive football as a way out — a way out of poverty. Everything looked like it was working out. At least until recently.

Today, Dennis is 22 years old. He currently plays in the KPL and he wants to take his talents further, maybe even play in Europe. Unfortunately, corruption and misappropriation of funds at Dennis’ current club have left Dennis is a peculiar situation. His club can no longer pay his full salary, his career feels stagnant, and his club has refused to release him. Now, despite Dennis’ immense talent, he is thinking of getting a ‘regular’ job which a steadier income, maybe even going back to school. He loves football but, supporting his family and building a life, is his first priority.

A player from our September trials showing off his chest control skills.

The second story is of Jonathan.

Jonathan grew up in Kilimani, West Nairobi. Unlike Dennis, Jonathan’s family never had to worry where their next meal was coming from; he always had a bed to sleep in and a TV to watch the English Premier League on the weekends. Jonathan fell in love with football from an early age. From watching the likes of Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo, he loved Manchester United as much as he believed he would one day play for them. His dream, just like Dennis’, was to become a professional footballer.

All through school, Jonathan played football. He played at all the local Nairobi football academies, he even played with the mtaa teams and got chances to represent KPL teams at the youth level.

A player at AstroTurf Challenge 2017.

But despite Jonathan’s background, he still struggled to make his dream a perceivable reality. Every day, after practice he would come home to parents that castigated him for his chosen career path. In truth, Johnathan’s parents had sacrificed a lot to put him through very good schools. They had raised him well and they could not understand why he would forfeit everything to play a game with ‘no opportunity’.

“Do you see any Kenyans in those European teams you like?!” his father often said. “You are better off getting a good job here in Kenya. Stop playing that silly game.”

Though Jonathan always knew to ignore his father, he often pondered whether giving up everything to earn 20,000 Kenyan Shillings per month in the KPL was worth the sacrifice. If pursued football, would he ever get a house like his parents’ in Kilimani? Was there really ‘no opportunity’ for football in Kenya?

Dennis and Jonathan maybe from very different backgrounds but their dream is the same. They want to ‘making it’ playing football. Unfortunately, for both of them, there is no clear path in their pursuit of football and every day their dreams are dying slowly.

Two players and a referee supporting our #WeSpeakOneLanguage campaign at Platinum Cup 2016.

This is the reality of many of our talented football players in this country. Who is giving them opportunities and chances to perceive football as a possible career path? What is our country doing for them? Why are our talents being buried in the ground?

The GS Effect

A lot of people think that Green Sports just hosts tournaments, but we do not. Dennis and Jonathan are very much the players who we once were. We have struggled with a lack of opportunity to make a living from football and we want this generation of kids to have the options we couldn’t find. We do this through our various projects.

The Green Sports Academy which is launching early this year is designed to give players perspective on what it takes to become a professional athlete whilst developing their talent.

The Green Sports Trials provide a platform for our players to showcase their talent and earn opportunities to further their game.

And African Warriors FC which is Green Sports’ Premier Club and consists of some of the best players ever to play at Green Sports’ tournaments. They represent West Nairobi and play with the goal of changing the narrative of our youth in football.

Come join the Green Sports movement and change the narrative of talented African players.

To find out how you can take part call our hotline number or get your team registered for Kito Cup 2018 and get your ticket to kickstarting your football career.

Official Kito Cup 2018 poster.

— +254717217751

— +254716774798

— Official Green Sports Instagram

— Official Green Sports Facebook